Could Ontario recreate South Korea’s success in containing coronavirus outbreak?

As Ontario grapples with rising COVID-19 case numbers, containment remains the key to battling the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease.

Countries like Italy, Iran and the United States continue to be overwhelmed trying to care for COVID-19 patients as worries grow that Ontario could soon be in the same situation.

South Korea, however, has emerged as a global beacon of hope after the country had major success in reducing its case numbers. After a peak of 909 confirmed cases on Feb. 29, South Korea’s numbers have rapidly dropped and are now in the single digits — on Tuesday, just 79 new cases were reported.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province is looking at South Korea’s model.

While South Korea’s population is vastly larger than Ontario’s, its per-capita testing for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been much higher. The republic ramped up testing immediately after a handful of cases were first identified, and it has also made the process simple and easily accessible to its population.

More than a quarter-million residents have been tested for the virus, with the ability to conduct up to 20,000 tests a day at 633 sites. South Korea is utilizing pop-up facilities and drive-thru clinics.

“We acted like an army,” Lee Sang-won, an infectious diseases expert at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters.

South Korea has also aggressively pursued contact tracing, which, in turn, has resulted in case isolation.

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